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sustainable traveler

How to be a sustainable traveler

Much has been said about the benefits of traveling, but have you considered the harm it causes the environment and local community? Unfortunately, only when damage has been done do we realize the negative impact of tourism (Boracay is an example, yet many other locales suffer an even worse fate). The government, tourism industry, and travelers must work together to protect and preserve these beautiful destinations and their original inhabitants by promoting and practicing sustainable travel. Otherwise, future generations may no longer be able to enjoy these sights.

Even the little things we do as individuals can go a long way if only more tourists would learn to reduce waste and make more sustainable choices while on a trip, like the following:

 

        Choose eco-friendly accommodations. When you research hotels, take into consideration their sustainable and environment-friendly initiatives. Once there, follow their practices and regulations, usually listed in signs all over the property.

        Walk or ride a bike when touring instead of riding a cab or van/car rental. You get a better experience of the place this way, save money, and even avoid heavy traffic that’s all too common in popular tourist spots. If your destination is too far, taking public transportation is a better option for reducing your carbon footprint than riding a private vehicle.

        Pack your own natural and biodegradable toiletries, and make sure you use only reef-safe sunscreen so you don’t pollute the water when you shower and swim.

        Use a BPA-free refillable water bottle instead of buying water in plastic bottles. You save money, too—bottled water abroad is usually way more expensive. Several places have water refilling stations, like your own hotel, malls, food courts, some restaurants, and airports.

        Bring reusable tote bags for pasalubong shopping and say no to plastic bags. ‘Nuff said.

        Clean up after yourself and don’t litter. “Leave nothing but footprints,” they say.

        Conserve energy by turning off all lights, TV, and air-conditioning before leaving your hotel room. The quickest way to do this is to grab the keycard that keeps electricity on, but still make a final check.

        Save water by taking quick showers and reusing towels. Turn off the water when you’re shampooing, lathering up, and brushing your teeth; just turn it on when you’re ready to rinse. It’s tempting when your hotel room has a bathtub, but skip it. Hang bath towels properly so housekeeping knows you intend to reuse them throughout your stay.

        Don’t buy souvenirs with natural resources like sand (seriously, don’t even take sand from the beach as a souvenir), seashells, corals, unsustainable hardwood, or even parts of animals (i.e. fangs, horns, feathers, fur, ivory, turtle shells, crocodile skin, etc.).

        Avoid tourist attractions that involve animals, like riding elephants, petting animals, or swimming with dolphins, especially those with endangered species or animals captured from the wild. Don’t let your boatman dive for starfish to touch or disturb anemone just to make clownfish or “Nemo” come out of hiding. And don’t eat “exotic” delicacies made of threatened species, no matter how delicious they supposedly are.

 

Words Trixie Reyna-Benedicto
First published Speed Magazine November 2018

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